MOSCOW, May 23. /TASS/. The Homs de-escalation zone in western Syria was liberated from militants through talks and without any fighting, chief of the Russian General Staff’s main operations directorate, Colonel-General Sergey Rudskoy, said on Wednesday.
"I want to specially note that the liberation of the Homs de-escalation zone from militants was reached peacefully, and no fighting was conducted allowing to fully prevent casualties among the civilians and members of the opposition units," he said.
During the talks with leaders of armed units, sheiks of tribes and representatives of religious communities an agreement was reached on establishing peace in the de-escalation zone and unblocking traffic on the Homs-Hama highway, Rudskoy said.
Members of the armed opposition were allowed to take advantage of the amnesty and stay in their settlements. Those militants who refused to switch to the jurisdiction of the Syrian government were taken to the Idlib province and to Jarabulus in the north of the Aleppo Governorate.
According to the general, since May 7, 13,407 members of illegal armed groups have been evacuated from the cities of Al-Rastan, Al-Qantara Shimali, Tell Bisa and other settlements.
The armed units surrendered to the government forces seven tanks, five infantry fighting vehicles, seven pickups with large-caliber machine guns, 122 weapons and mortars, 20 multiple artillery rocket systems, 122 anti-tank missiles, 45 hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers, 14 missile defense systems, 12 self-made Hellfire launchers, and also 56 large-caliber machine guns.